Are you ready to launch your business in Africa, but need some tips on how to get started? We gathered an expert panel of entrepreneurs and investors who discussed important topics like finding funding, branding and marketing, forming partnerships and building your network. Here’s what they had to say.
Before you start…
Say you have a great idea for a business. Before you get started, ask yourself: Is there a demand for my product or service? Does the infrastructure my business needs to succeed exist in my target market? If the answer to either question is “no,” then your great idea might never get off the ground.
Next, you need funding to start building your business. Seed funding can be difficult to access in many African countries. Explore diverse funding opportunities, including equity and debt financing, NGO grants and pitch competitions sponsored by groups like the World Bank.
In the first year…
Refine your business model. Figure out what you’re selling and to whom by closely monitoring your target market.
In the early days, you must be willing to do some things for free. For example, giving out free samples can be a great promotional strategy and a useful way to get candid feedback from potential customers.
Develop an online presence using sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Not only will this help you market your product, but it will also help you make connections with potential business partners and mentors. You can do a lot of free advertising on social media, but it might be worth the cost to advertise on platforms like Google, especially when your business is still relatively unknown.
Beware of intellectual property theft
The best way to keep your great idea safe is to move quickly. Develop your product and get it to market before anyone else gets there first. Also, keep in mind that intellectual property theft is one major risk of crowdfunding, so if you decide to ask the public to help finance your business, you risk someone taking your idea and implementing it first.
View the full panel discussion at gistnetwork.org.
Interested in taking the next step with your business? Check out our #YALIEntrepreneurs page.